Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Advent – Christ’s Promise and Reward Beyond the Dash’
© December 4, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #614: Peace and Renewal (Micah 4 and 7); Prayer
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church, where today we have a dual Advent Observe Service: the first being second Sunday of Advent and we shall observe the second advent of Jesus by partaking the elements of Communion.
But what is meant by coming of the Lord, which has yet to take place, by observing Communion as a single Church or Body of Believers. The Wikibits definition of Advent found on the back of today’s Bulletin indicates:
noun: advent; plural noun: advents
- The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
G. “the advent of television”
- Synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development;
G. “the advent of a new school year”
- antonyms: disappearance
Advent is the first season of the Christian Church Year leading up to Christmas, and including, the four preceding Sundays.
In Christian Theology; Advent denotes the coming, or second coming, of Christ.
Lighting of the Second Advent Candle
Many Christians in Canada celebrate the beginning of the Advent season on the first Sunday of Advent. It marks the start of the Christian year in western Christianity. And each of the four Sunday’s prior to Christmas, most Christians light a candle representing a virtue associated with Jesus. The candles often are set within an evergreen wreath. The evergreen boughs signifying renewal and eternal life and the circular shape is symbolic of the eternal perfection of God. In the centre of the wreath it is common to place a fifth candle, called the Christ Candle that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day to signify the Savior’s birth.
Last Sunday, we lit the first of our four Advent Candles, called Candle of Prophecy or Hope, to represent the 800 years humanity waited for the prophecy to be completed, which is the arrival the Christ, the Messiah.
Today, we light a second Advent Candle, also known as the Candle of Peace and Fulfilment. And as the candle is lit, I will read from Ephesians 2:13-18, which is found inside today’s bulletin, within the Order of Service:
Lighting of the Second Advent Candle – Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Opening Hymn #104: It Came upon the Midnight Clear; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Today’s Scriptures: Micah 5:1-5, Isaiah 9:6, Haggai 2:1-9
Let us pray…
Just as Sunday is a time to rest and reflect on what God had accomplished in the preceding six days all that is good, on Advent Sunday we should focus upon the virtues brought to the world with the birth of Jesus.
Unlike the life of other people, whose accomplishments are bracketed between their date of birth and the day of their passing, represented by the dash found between the day of birth and time of death, Jesus impacted the world before and after the period which he lived with the humanity of this world.
The prophecy of Christ’s birth engendered hope among the people, which led to faith. The birth in Bethlehem, of the ‘Prince of Peace’, is prophesized in Micah 5:1-5 (ESV):
The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem
5 [a] Now muster your troops, O daughter[b] of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 [c] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.
But it is the events before the Lord’s birth and after His crucifixion that make the true foundation of our faith. The anticipation of His birth and what happened after His crucifixion inspire humanity’s faith. Advent anticipates the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, who is the Son of God.
In our second Scripture passage, from Haggai 2:1-9 (ESV), we have prophesied the shaking of the heavens and the earth, including the dry land and sea, and all the treasures will be reclaimed. But the Lord promises to keep His covenants, to have his Spirit present in the midst of His flock and in place of the worldly destruction, he will provide a chosen one who will bring the peace of God, by way of a cross, in order to restore His temple, which is the Body of Believers:
The Coming Glory of the Temple
2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
Christ came not to just fulfill prophecy, but implement God’s plan. That plan was not to revoke God’s judgement and punishment for our sin, but Christ would take both the judgement and punishment for sin upon Himself.
Jesus was born and raised among humanity as both the son of man and Son of God, who in time taught, ministered, healed, and ultimately sacrificed His life for His brothers and sisters.
If that were all there was to the story of Christ, the world might conclude that Jesus was caring, loving prophet of God. But Jesus was not a prophet, but God’s fulfillment of His prophecy. Though Jesus died for our sins, he overcame death by the power of the Spirit, proving that he is truly the Way, the Resurrection, and the Life. Jesus, alone, is the door to heaven.
After Christ stayed on earth after His resurrection, he ascended to heaven, seated beside his Father to act as our advocated. Then from heaven, the Lord sent God’s Holy Spirit to consul, to comfort, to admonish, and to lead humanity on the path of righteousness. What Jesus before and after the dash of his time on earth is as important as what he accomplished here, for it respectively represents the promise and reward of our faith.
Our final Scripture, Isaiah 9:6, refers to the Godhead or Holy Trinity of our might God, Who as the Holy Spirit is a Wonderful Counselor; Who also is: the Maker, the Everlasting Father; and as Jesus our Savior, the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (ESV):
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[b]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon b. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called
Let us pray…
Communion: Responsive Reading #626 (Mark 14)
Closing Hymn #117: Silent Night! Holy Night!
Benediction – (Philippians 4:7): And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.